Crossrail project to Elizabeth line operations: Operational approach and lessons learned

Document type: Journal Publication
Author: Howard Smith FCILT FIRO MAPM, Martin Stuckey
Publication Date: 05/04/2023

  • Abstract

    The delivery of Elizabeth line operations from concept to passenger service has ultimately been very successful. The line is a new type of service in the UK, analogous to the French RER or German S-Bahn systems, and brings together (i) major new infrastructure, (ii) new rules and regulations (as it is a unique railway) and (iii) new teams, many of which are themselves new to the industry and/or are part of organisations that have not worked together in a similar formation before. This is almost unprecedented: most new railways involve one or two of these three elements, not all at once. The Elizabeth line was also delivered within the complex UK/EU-prescribed contractual framework, including separation of track and train.

    Nevertheless, the Elizabeth line has (by the end of 2022) delivered almost exactly the train service envisaged in the original Sponsors Requirements and at the time of the Crossrail Bill receiving Royal Assent – with the final stage to follow in May 2023. Change to the proposed service has been carefully controlled throughout that period of nearly 15 years within an environment that could have seen significant and damaging ad-hoc adjustments, with the one significant change being the very worthwhile extension of the western terminus to Reading. Initial passenger operations in the Crossrail Central Operating Section (CCOS) from May 2022 were successful in terms of reliability and attracting ridership – the ‘stand-alone’ railway that was operated from May to November 2022 was among the UK’s most reliable – and while through running onto infrastructure managed by Network Rail (NR) is more technically challenging, there is every sign that this too will settle down into a reliable and very popular service, delivering the benefits intended.

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  • Authors

    Howard Smith

    Howard Smith FCILT FIRO MAPM - Transport for London

    Howard Smith is currently Director of London’s brand new Elizabeth line. He studied at the London School of Economics before working in operational railway roles in London. He was involved in planning and operating international rail services through the UK-France Channel Tunnel before joining Transport for London. There, he has lead the significant expansion of light rail, the creation of the orbital London Overground service, the delivery of the Emirates Airline – London’s first cable car, and was one the transport leaders for the London 2012 Olympic Games. From 2013 he was Chief Operating Officer of the Crossrail Project which was renamed the Elizabeth line ahead of its royal opening in May 2022. 

    Martin Stuckey

    Martin Stuckey - Crossrail Ltd

    Martin has operated at a senior level within Crossrail and the Elizabeth line organisation since 2009. He helped establish the operations function within Crossrail, championing and integrating operational requirements, priorities, activities, resources and outcomes that have brought the Elizabeth line successfully into use. A member of the Elizabeth line operations executive he also runs a programme management office, leads the transition  into “business as usual” within TfL and the deployment and exploitation of the wealth of information from the Elizabeth line as a digital railway.

    Prior to joining Crossrail Martin has had a varied career working in transport planning and project management before playing a key role to develop the strategy and business plan for TfL when it was first established and then as a project director for TfL.

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